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Should Bears bench Trubisky? Making argument for — and against — sitting the starting QB.

Colleen Kane, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Football

Play him: Chase Daniel's turnovers have helped lose two of the four games he played for the Bears.

There's a good amount of evidence that Daniel is not the answer to the Bears' problems on offense.

He has played the majority of four games for the Bears the last two seasons, with two victories to his name.

In the overtime loss to the Giants in 2018, he threw two first-half interceptions, including a pick-six on the first drive of the game. In the loss to the Raiders this season, he threw two interceptions, including one on a drive that could have helped seal a victory.

The only touchdown drive he led against the Vikings was the one he took over for Trubisky at midfield. On Thanksgiving Day against the Lions in 2018, the Bears needed Eddie Jackson's pick-six to win it.

This isn't like the Bears turning to a young, unproven -- and potentially exciting -- quarterback. Daniel is a 33-year-old career backup who is like another coach for Trubisky and is serviceable in a pinch. But he doesn't appear to be the answer over half a season.

Bench him: As Matt Nagy said, mistakes can be contagious.

Trubisky's mistakes aren't just turnovers, though the aforementioned fourth-quarter interceptions and a lost fumble against the Chargers were particularly costly.

When he misses wide receivers by several yards, as he did when he overshot Taylor Gabriel on what looked like a sure touchdown against the Chargers, or when he fails to see the field correctly to spot an open receiver, there's potential for the negativity to rub off on other plays and other players. How can he maintain trust with his receivers when he makes such obvious errors?

It's no wonder Nagy had Trubisky watch that broadcast tape from the Chargers game to study his body language. Bad vibes can snowball.

As Gabriel said when asked generally about the offense's mistakes: "Negative plays, they affect everybody. It's just how you bounce back from them."

Play him: The problems run deeper than Mitch Trubisky.

Nagy made that much clear after the Eagles game when asked if he considered a move to Daniel at halftime. He didn't because he blamed more than Trubisky for the Bears netting just 9 yards in the first half.

A failure of those proportions falls on many -- from Nagy's game plan to the offensive line's issues to drops by Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Allen Robinson.

Nagy used that argument when he was asked how his other players are maintaining faith in Trubisky.

"It's there," Nagy said. "Here's how we do it. We look at it as a whole unit. You go back and look at (Sunday's) game, offensively, there's a lot more than just one person. ... Mitch knows and I know and we all know that it goes to him. He gets it. But there's a lot of people involved here that we really believe in that it didn't happen (Sunday). That's the part that's really frustrating."

Bench him: At some point, if Mitch Trubisky continues to struggle, Matt Nagy could lose the team.

 

The public message from the players is that they are not yet at that point.

Gabriel stood up Wednesday and said he still believes in Trubisky. Left tackle Charles Leno said Tuesday the best thing the Bears offense does is stick together. Trubisky said he stresses communication with his teammates so they stay on the same page with their work, mindset and goals.

All three were earnest in their statements, but is there a breaking point? If Trubisky makes another game-deciding turnover or continues to miss wide-open receivers, will the mistakes wear on his teammates? Will the defense begin to resent the heavy load it is forced to carry? Or will those players give up?

Nagy is guarding against such problems, but maybe a quarterback change would help stave off the disgruntlement of his players.

"Defensively I have all the belief in those guys and how they're going to handle themselves, even after a four-game losing streak," Nagy said. "What happens is that you see their character jump up even more and you realize that they lead themselves defensively. The whole unit, they feed off of that, so I have confidence they won't get burned out."

Play him: The Lions game presents a good time to right the ship.

Trubisky had his second-best game of the 2018 season against the Lions, connecting big with Robinson and Miller to lead a 34-22 victory at Soldier Field.

Nagy is showing clips of that game to his players this week to show what their functioning offense can look like.

Meanwhile, the 2019 Lions have given up 424 yards and 27.1 points per game, both among the six worst in the NFL. They are vulnerable against the run, with opponents rushing for more than 100 yards in seven of eight games. That includes 166 or more in three of their last four games.

It seems like a good time to get rookie running back David Montgomery going, easing some of the pressure on Trubisky.

"We see what we can be," Trubisky said of watching last year's Lions game. "Obviously we have the same players we had last year, so we're capable of creating explosive plays, staying on the field, converting on third downs, scoring touchdowns and having that identity and being the team we want to be. ... That was a fun day, and we're hoping to have more of those in the future."

And if Trubisky remains on the field -- and looks like that -- perhaps TV time will be saved at Halas Hall after all.

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